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Tack and field.

Like most people, I don't make sweeping generalisations. It's probably fair to say, however, that no one wants to be treated like a human d-pad.

If Kinect makes you the controller, then MotionSports makes you a NES pad. Even worse, the game's archaic design only reinforces that notion. Unlike Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports or the excellent Dance Central, this is a game that makes Microsoft's accessory look pointless and – at times – even broken.

That isn't Kinect's fault, though. MotionSports would have been terrible on any platform, with any controller. This, after all, is a game that features the brilliant Midfield Kick, in which you are challenged to boot a football from the centre spot into an open goal.

That kind of lazy design permeates the entire experience and isn't helped by awful implementation of Kinect's technology. Of the six Kinect games I've played so far, this is by far the worst at recognising your movements, a point only hammered home by its suspicious lack of full-body avatar control.

In its favour, MotionSports has a varied line-up that should be of interest to all age groups.

Take the skiing. What begins as a thrilling downhill race where you need to crouch and use skiing poles to build speed soon deviates into an extremely frustrating joyride on ice, it's almost impossible to turn left or right with any purpose or accuracy. A ski-jump event is better, but by the time it's unlocked, you'll be too frustrated to care.

The football, meanwhile, should have been a real kick in the teeth, but MotionSports isn't very good at kicks either. An awful Penalty Shootout mode highlights one of the biggest problems – the d-pad effect. Instead of recognising well-struck shots to the corner, the game simply pushes them on to the post, every time. It's the equivalent of holding right or left for too long in a traditional, pad-controlled shootout and it makes you seriously question the game's underlying mechanics.

The only solution to this problem is to treat your leg like a pad and throw kicks diagonally, with all the enthusiasm of a drugged-up Karate Kid. The higher your leg finishes, the higher the shot goes. To make matters worse, if you don't stand in exactly the right spot, you'll 'miss' the ball.

Meanwhile, corners weren't the only thing cut in the football line-up, as Penalty Shootout and the admittedly sensational Midfield Kick are the only two modes available.

MotionSports will appeal to masochists and generic couples everywhere.

American football fares better than its counterpart, but not by much. A running back mini-game, in which your avatar must avoid approaching obstacles, is blighted by lag. If you don't duck or sidestep at least a second before your avatar requires it, then the movement comes too late. The character doesn't dip incrementally either, or match your movements smoothly, like the avatars in Kinect Adventures do.

Surely the whole point of Kinect is to mirror your entire body in these situations, but MotionSports doesn't bother, which leads one to assume that Ubisoft Milan simply weren't capable of it, or – to give the developers some credit – didn't have time to implement the feature properly.

The other two American football events, quarterback throws and field goals, are even worse. In the quarterback game, I was expecting to throw a ball to the receiver, but ended up on the receiving end myself – of some terrible gameplay. (I'm available for parties.)

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About the Author

Ronan Jennings


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